Alternative Systems Using Peat Moss

Peat Moss systems have become more popular recently because they are billed as a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional septic systems. Peat is a partially broken down organic material that has a high capacity for holding water and chemical properties that make it especially successful in filtering waste. It functions very similarly to a traditional system, with the main difference being that the wastewater is filtered through several feet of peat – usually of the sphagnum variety – before it is dispersed into the soil. Peat moss systems are often found in areas where there is no access to city-managed water treatment but it has also been considered as an alternative to those city-managed treatments. There are several benefits to using this type of system, but of course, they are challenged by a few cons as well. Here are a few basics to know before you consider a peat moss system.

Effluent Levels in Soil

There are several peat filter designs available. A well-designed peat moss system is capable of trapping and completely breaking down effluent – or liquid waste before dispersing back into the soil, making it safe to use. Peat moss has been shown to be capable of highly efficient removal of bacteria and nitrogen in finished effluent. However, if your peat moss system suffers from poor design, unfortunately it can leech harmful bacteria into your soil and contaminate your ground water. This is especially bad if you use groundwater for drinking water because you can get really sick by drinking groundwater that has been contaminated by the bacterias found in liquid waste. So, it’s important to work with a professional if you’re considering installing a peat moss system.


Some sources suggest that maintenance of peat systems is minimal, but it really depends on the design of your system. Traditional septic systems require maintenance at least every few years, while some peat moss systems require maintenance every few months. Regardless of which system design you choose, regular maintenance is recommended to prevent buildup and ensure that the system isn’t being overworked or flooded. A typical maintenance visit includes testing of bacteria and waste levels, which can be pricey.

Another factor in maintenance is disposal. When your peat moss has reached its limit, which usually takes about 10-15 years unless your system has clogged or flooded, it must be removed and replaced. A professional can help you with this, but you may run into some issues disposing of the used peat as each state has its own regulations about disposing of this type of material due to the amount of bacteria it contains. You may have to pay an extra cost to have the peat waste disposed of safely and in accordance with your state’s regulations. 

Water Usage vs Peat Moss Capacity

One important factor to consider before installing a peat moss system – or really any system – is your water usage. Peat moss does have the capacity to hold a lot of water, but it does have its limit, so you want to make sure you evaluate your water usage before installing a peat moss system to make sure that you don’t overload or flood the system if there isn’t enough peat moss to filter it. A flooded system becomes clogged, so it will need to be completely cleaned out in order to function properly again. And of course, a flooded system risks the possibility of bacteria and waste leaking into your soil – so a misstep in the design of your peat system could definitely end up being quite a headache later.


There are some perks to a peat moss system in terms of performance. As mentioned, when designed and running properly, they are efficient in filtering and disposing of bacteria and reducing nickel in your system. This is due to peat’s porous nature and its ability to absorb water, functioning much like a sponge. Effluent is held in the sponge-like peat for a long time, exposing it to an acidic chemical environment which is supported by the microorganisms that dwell within the peat. These microorganisms are supported and sustained by the moisture held within the peat, which allows the peat to remain effective over time, even if only used intermittently. The moisture also helps the peat retain its internal temperature, which makes it effective in any climate, even very cold climates. 

If maintained and properly cleaned on a regular timeline, peat moss is a self-sustaining material that can perform well in a variety of circumstances. Contact us today if you’re looking to install a peat moss septic system on your property or if your existing peat system is in need of some maintenance. We’re here to help!

Scroll to Top